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Indiana: Follow top alcohol bills at Statehouse

Indiana: Follow top alcohol bills at Statehouse


Source: Indy Star

Amy Haneline

January 26, 2016


The 2016 Indiana General Assembly is bringing in another round of Sunday sales debate. But, that’s not all. Here are the alcohol issues IndyStar is following. Keep track of the bills’ progress here.


Sunday sales


Sunday carry out sales have been banned in Indiana for 80 years. In a fight over market share, big-box retailers and package liquors stores have been unable to compromise, dividing lawmakers. Groceries, pharmacies, and convenience stores have historically supported allowing Sunday sales, while package liquor stores traditionally resist it. Groceries and the like want to take advantage of the second busiest shopping day. But, liquor stores argue that unequal and stricter regulation limits their ability to compete.


The bill: House Bill 1399, authored by Rep. Tom Dermody, would allow sales on Sundays provided retailers meet a number of requirements-keeping displays away from toys, candy and school supplies, securing mini bottles of liquor, and requiring sales clerks to be 21 or older and receive server training.


Status: House hearing took place Jan. 20. Amendments will be discussed Jan. 27, followed by committee vote.


The state passed a bill in 2013 that allows Hoosiers to operate small, artisan distilleries. There are about a dozen now in the state including Hotel Tango Whiskey in Fletcher Place, Cardinal Spirits in Bloomington and Starlight Distillery, connected to Huber Winery in Starlight. Many of these distilleries are marketed as tourist attractions and they want the ability to sell craft spirits on Sundays.


The bill: House Bill 1274, authored by Rep. Ed Clere, would allow Indiana’s artisan distilleries to sell their products for carry out on Sundays like Indiana’s wineries and microbreweries.


Status: House hearing took place Jan. 20. Amendments will be discussed Jan. 28, followed by committee vote.


Popular mead and cider maker, New Day Craft, discovered this fall that it was illegally refilling growlers from its Fountain Square tasting room. As it turns out, state law actually prohibits any retailer from refilling containers with alcoholic products unless that retailer holds a microbrewery permit. New Day Craft ferments fruit and honey, therefore is technically a farm winery. New Day Craft and the like want permission to refill growlers, a service that its customers grew accustomed to for several years.


The bill: There’s two: House Bill 1146, authored by Rep. Dan Forestal and House Bill 1386, authored by Rep. Tom Dermody. Forestal’s bill would add farm wineries as an exception to the state’s refill restrictions. Dermody’s proposal is part of an omnibus bill, but would allow any manufacturer of hard cider to refill containers.


Status: House Bill 1146 is awaiting a hearing. House Bill 1386 will be heard Jan. 27, and amendments will be discussed Jan. 28, followed by committee vote.


Increased alcohol permits for Hamilton County


Leaders in areas undergoing redevelopment, especially in Hamilton County, say their growth has outpaced the number of liquor licenses available for its growing municipalities. They believe the lack of three-way alcohol permits discourages potential restaurant openings. The opposition is concerned that simply adding permits at a set fee could devalue current permits, some that were obtained at auction at a much higher cost. They also contend that beer and wine permits are still plentiful.


The bill:House Bill 1118, authored by Rep. Todd Huston, would allow the Alcohol and Tobacco Commission to issue 10 new alcohol permits for on-premises consumption to owners of a restaurant in a municipality in Hamilton County at a cost of $6,000 per permit.


Status: House hearing took place on Jan. 13. Amendments will be discussed Jan. 27, followed by committee vote.


A proposed bill would lift Indiana’s ban on happy hours, which prevents retailers from selling alcoholic beverages at a reduced price for part of the day. (Photo: Michelle Pemberton/IndyStar)


Indiana has banned happy hours for 30 years now, meaning bars and restaurants are unable to reduce the price of alcoholic beverages for a set period of time. The law was first established to reduce binge drinking and drunken driving. Restaurant owners say they would take advantage of happy hour specials in a responsible manner. However, some researchers still worry about increased alcohol abuse.


The bill:House Bill 1386, authored by Rep. Tom Dermody, would allow for drink specials during part of the day and retain the part of the existing law that prohibits selling multiple drinks for the price of one. However, the measure is part of a larger omnibus bill, potentially making it trickier to advance.


Status: Bill is scheduled for a hearing Jan. 27. Amendments will be discussed Jan. 28, followed by committee vote.